Plan for $4m visitor centre on show

By Lawrence Gullery

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A plan to build a $4 million visitor and education centre at Te Mata Peak will officially be open to the public tomorrow for comment to help Hastings District Council decide whether it should go ahead.

The Te Mata Park Trust has raised $2.25 million of the $4 million it needs to start construction, subject to a resource consent being granted. If granted, it would be a milestone in attracting the remaining funds needed.

The trust said it wanted the resource consent application to be fully notified to ensure the views of the whole community were heard and any concerns addressed.

Trust chairman Bruno Chambers said park users and the wider community had been over-whelmingly supportive of the development to date and he's calling on those people to put their views in writing, too.

"The centre will have a significant positive impact on Hawke's Bay's economic, education and health outcomes, and at this stage we are not aware of anyone who is anything but totally supportive of the project. However, if there are any concerns we want to know about them."

Visitors to the centre, to be located off the lower carpark, would learn about the park's history, its unique flora and fauna, its fascinating geological character and its intriguing Maori and European social history.

The Centre would provide visitors with a unique perspective and an opportunity to orientate themselves within the region.

It would be the destination for an increasing number of bus tours. It would also provide a place for bus passengers to transfer to smaller shuttles, eliminating the need for large vehicles to go to the summit, in turn increasing safety for other road users.

The Centre would be the focal point of the park, making it accessible for schools and all members of the public regardless of age or ability. It would also provide a meeting place for park user groups, space for education programmes, a cafe and facilities such as toilets, for the more than 200,000 visitors the Peak attracts each year. Access to the centre would be free.

The Centre, designed by award-winning architect Christopher Kelly, will complement the natural curves of the Park and provide 180 degree views from the viewing platform. Hastings District Council is contributing $1.1 million, Hawke's Bay Regional Council $500,000 and Napier City Council $250,000 towards the project.

Hawke's Bay fundraising consultancy, Giblin Group, had secured another $400,000 from private philanthropists and charitable trusts.

Hawke's Bay residents have until 5pm on Friday, May 24 to submit their views on the development of the Te Mata Park Visitor and Education Centre.

People wishing to submit can download a submission form at http://www.hastingsdc.govt.nz/resourceconsents. For more information on what the Centre will offer Hawke's Bay go to www.tematapark.co.nz .

- Hawkes Bay Today

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